The new year brought the same old overtime story for the Dallas Stars. Montreal's Max Pacioretty scored 19 seconds into the extra period to give the Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Stars at American Airlines Center Wednesday night.
It was the eighth loss in ten overtime games (2-8) for the Stars this season.
"The points we've lost in overtime is becoming unacceptable," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "When we're making mistakes like that, it's just handing them a point, and that's hard because we need points right now."
But giving away points in overtime wasn't Ruff's only beef Wednesday night. His team had a 2-1 lead going into the third period against a team that played the night before but took two consecutive penalties, including a delay of game infraction for shooting the puck over the glass. Montreal scored on both power plays in a span of 75 seconds to take a 3-2 lead.
The Stars were able to draw even with 2:47 remaining on a goal by Esa Lindell to get the game into overtime. But, in the extra period, after a Dallas turnover, Pacioretty took a pass from Jeff Petry, broke in alone on net and beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen five-hole with a wrist shot.
"I thought we beat ourselves," Ruff said. "I thought we beat ourselves by taking the second penalty on a play we didn't even need to put a puck up near the glass. Then we were in a perfect position in overtime and just let the high guy go which is totally unacceptable. Our high guy let him go, and that's another point we gave away. They didn't earn it. We gave it away."
Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, and Lindell were the goal scorers, and Lehtonen stopped 29 of 33 shots for the Stars, who ended a key stretch of nine games - eight of them at home - with a 5-2-2 record. They are 16-15-8 on the season and sit two points out of a playoff spot.
"We still got one point today, but we wanted two points," said Klingberg. "All of the points for us now are really huge. I think, with the homestand we had here, we were able to build some momentum to our game and get some energy, too."
The Canadiens, who were playing in their fifth straight overtime game, got two goals from Pacioretty and one goal and two assists from defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. They improved to 24-9-6 on the season.
"You know the road hasn't been perfect for us this year," Pacioretty said. "We've had, I think someone said five overtime games in a row. We weren't great in overtime, so it's a little bit of a blessing that we've played this many overtime games in a row since we've gotten a little bit better at it. But it definitely feels good to get two points."
Montreal had the better of play early and took a 1-0 lead 10:38 into the game when Nathan Beaulieu scored from the left circle. The Stars answered at the 14:44 mark when Seguin redirected a Stephen Johns shot into the net to tie the game 1-1.
Montreal goaltender Al Montoya had a couple of close calls in the period. A Jordie Benn shot got behind him, but Habs center Phillip Danault swept it away from the goal line. He then mishandled a Patrick Sharp shot from distance and had to scramble to keep the puck out of the net with his pad.
Sharp and Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell rounded out the first period with a fight in the final minute.
The Stars dominated play in the second period, outshooting Montreal 16-6 and scoring the only goal to take a 2-1 lead. With the Stars on their first power play of the game, Klingberg slid along the blue line and scored off a wrist shot at the 12:29 mark.
The Canadiens got back-to-back power plays in the third period and scored on both to take a 3-2 lead. With Curtis McKenzie in the penalty box for holding, Montreal's Alexander Radulov picked up a loose puck at the Dallas blue line, split two Stars defenders and beat Lehtonen with a backhand shot to tie the game 2-2 at the 2:58 mark.
Thirty seconds later, Johns put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, and Pacioretty scored from the right circle to put Montreal up 3-2 at the 4:13 mark.
The Stars tied it when Lindell scored from the point at the 17:13 mark and the game went to overtime, where the Stars came up short once again.
"It was nice coming back with a goal again and going into overtime, but that's the part where we have to get a lot better," Klingberg said. "We have lost a lot of points in overtime this year, so I guess we'll have to work a little bit harder on that, too."
Notes: Jamie Benn to IR
*The Stars placed captain Jamie Benn on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 31 with a foot injury. Benn was injured in Saturday's game against Florida. With Benn going on IR retroactive to Dec. 31, he will miss at least Saturday's game in St. Louis as well. Benn going on IR opened a roster spot for Antoine Roussel, who returned to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
*Roussel played 17:00 in his return and had no points and two shots on goal.
"I thought he played really well and was one of our better players out there," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Roussel. "I thought his hustle and work ethic was fabulous."
*The Stars outshot the Canadiens 42-33 and had a 74-62 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrick Eaves led the Stars with 5 shots on goal. Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp co-led the Stars with 9 shot attempts apiece.
*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play and 1-3 on the penalty kill.
*Dallas won 39 of 74 faceoffs (53 percent). Cody Eakin won 11 of 19 faceoffs (58 percent) for the Stars.
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 22:39 of ice time.
*The Stars are 1-6-3 vs. the Eastern Conference this season.
The Stars hit the road for three straight games, playing at St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. The Stars are 2-5-2 in their past nine road games.
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Jiri Hudler
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Adam Cracknell
Injured: Jamie Benn (foot), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.